The project which is an initiative of the East African Communications Organisation (EACO), seeks to interconnect the EAC countries through Internet links with the aim of keeping the region’s Internet traffic local.
ICT Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati said the countries are at the moment drafting policies and regulations that will give guidelines of the initiative’s implementation and regulation.
“In a bid to support the growth of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) within the country and beyond, the government of Kenya has already put in place several measures to promote the growth of electronic, commerce and by extension, the growth of e-government services,” Tiampati said.
An Internet Exchange Point is a physical network access area through which major network providers connect their networks and exchange traffic. The primary role an IXP is to keep local Internet traffic within a local infrastructure as well as help reduce costs associated with traffic exchange between Internet Service Providers.
Some of the benefits that will come along with the implementation of the East Africa IXP include lowering Internet connectivity costs, reducing connectivity latencies, improving privacy and cyber security incidents management.
It will also help in increasing bandwidth, grow network applications as well as expand e-content and increased Internet penetration.
The project will first be implemented with the five EAC countries before it is extended to other seven countries within the larger Eastern Africa region.
“The increased uptake of online services such as e-government services, e-commerce, e-banking, e-learning, e-health not to mention the world renown mobile money services are just a few of the areas that are increasing becoming the movers of our economies,” Tiampati said.
The PS was speaking on Monday during the Eastern Africa Regional Interconnection Policy and Regulatory Framework workshop in Nairobi, which brought together the involved stakeholders including, representatives of the EAC member states, the African Union Commission, East African Communications Organization and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The objectives of the Nairobi workshop which concludes on Friday this week, will be to review the alignment of the national policies and regulations, formulation of roadmap towards the establishment of the policy framework committee and finalization and endorsement of the regional cross-border interconnection policy framework by the relevant structures of EAC, IGAD and EACO among others.
The workshop is a follow up of the African Union-Eastern Africa Internet Exchange and Regional Internet Carrier Workshop held in May this year in Rwanda, whose key recommendation was the need to develop a policy and regulatory framework that will facilitate regional interconnection for the East African region.
At the moment all countries have a national IXP apart from Burundi, according to a feasibility study on the status of the national Internet Exchange Points in the region, carried out in November 2013 by EACO.